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    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    The Evolution of Quantum Computers: Expanding Access to Desktop Quantum Computing

    BySam Figg

    Nov 20, 2023
    The Evolution of Quantum Computers: Expanding Access to Desktop Quantum Computing

    Quantum computing, with its ability to solve complex problems in a fraction of the time it would take classical computers, holds great promise for the future. However, the cooling requirements of traditional quantum computer designs have been a barrier to bringing this groundbreaking technology to our desktops. But the landscape is changing as new approaches to quantum computing emerge.

    One such approach is photonic quantum computing, which utilizes light to form qubits. Photons, being naturally more robust to thermal noise, offer the potential to operate at room temperature. Companies like QuiX are already producing early-stage photonic quantum processors that don’t require cooling. While scalable photonic hardware is still a work in progress, application-specific devices are already being realized, opening up possibilities for machine learning and generative modeling.

    However, challenges remain in terms of detecting photons and developing entangled light sources. While the qubits may be at room temperature, the technology to detect them still relies on super-cooled sensors. Nonetheless, investment in photonic quantum computing is on the rise, with optimism that scalable and versatile quantum computing using this method is within reach.

    Another promising avenue is diamond defect quantum computing. Diamonds with specific defects, such as nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers, can form qubits naturally insulated from environmental noise sources. Companies like Quantum Brilliance and XeedQ are already selling desktop-sized diamond defect quantum computers. However, the number of qubits demonstrated using this technology is still limited, and further research is needed to optimize the manufacturing processes.

    While most quantum computing hardware developers are currently focused on providing systems for industrial applications, the potential for room-temperature solutions for the mass market should not be overlooked. Edge-AI, image processing, and real-time logistics optimization are just a few areas where an affordable and mobile quantum solution could make a significant impact. Even autonomous vehicle manufacturers and supermarket chains are exploring quantum applications. Additionally, there is a demand for higher-performance computing in the harsh environment of space.

    It is important to note that while the future of quantum computing may include desktop solutions, classical hardware will likely remain dominant for the next two decades. Room-temperature quantum computers are expected to play a role in educating society about quantum computing and facilitating research. The market-leading technologies are still uncertain, with photonic and diamond defect approaches competing with other modalities like superconducting, trapped ion, neutral atom, and silicon-based systems.

    According to IDTechEx’s research study, the addressable market for quantum computers is expected to grow rapidly as technology advances, with over 3000 systems likely to be installed by 2043. The long-term commercial success is predicted for inherently scalable solutions, giving desktop quantum computing a significant competitive edge.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is a qubit?

    A qubit is the basic unit of information in quantum computing, analogous to a classical bit. However, unlike the binary 0s and 1s of classical bits, qubits can exist in superposition, representing both states simultaneously.

    2. What is thermal noise?

    Thermal noise refers to random fluctuations in a system caused by the thermal energy of its components. In the context of quantum computing, thermal noise can disrupt the accuracy of computations or even destroy quantum information.

    3. How do photonic qubits work?

    Photonic qubits use light to represent quantum information. This can be done through the state of individual photons or the quantum states of beams of photons. Photons are naturally more robust to thermal noise, making them a promising avenue for room-temperature quantum computing.

    4. How do diamond defect qubits work?

    Diamond defect qubits utilize specific defects in diamonds, such as nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers, to form quantum systems. The spin state of these defects can be used to represent 1s and 0s. The carbon lattice surrounding the defects naturally insulates the qubits from environmental noise.

    5. When can we expect desktop quantum computers?

    While the future of quantum computing may include desktop solutions, it is likely to be at least two decades before classical hardware is surpassed. In the meantime, room-temperature quantum computers are set to play a role in educating society about quantum computing and facilitating research.

    Sources: [IDTechEx](https://www.idtechex.com/)